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Six Nations 2024: Italy team profile

Italy put the “six” into Six Nations when they joined the other five in 2000, and sixth is where they have finished in 18 of the 24 seasons they have sat at European rugby’s top table.

That has also been their finishing position in the last eight seasons, the longest run of successive wooden spoons the Azzurri have collected, and in that sequence they have won just one of 40 tournament matches.

Most of their players are home-based - of their 36-man squad, 17 turn out for Benetton and another eight for Zebre. 

While that does bring a certain amount of cohesion to the squad, other coaches in the past have encouraged players to join clubs abroad where they would face more competition for places and a higher standard of game.

At last year’s Rugby World Cup Italy again followed a consistent pattern - finishing third in their pool as they have done at all six tournaments this century, losing their two matches against tier-one opposition and beating their tier-two rivals.

Italy: 2024 Six Nations squad


Pietro Ceccarelli, Danilo Fischetti, Matteo Nocera, Luca Rizzoli, Mirco Spagnolo, Giosuè Zilocchi, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Marco Manfredi, Giacomo Nicotera, Niccolò Cannone, Edoardo Iachizzi, Federico Ruzza, Andrea Zambonin, Lorenzo Cannone, Riccardo Favretto, Alessandro Izekor, Michele Lamaro, Sebastian Negri, Ross Vintcent, Manuel Zuliani


Alessandro Garbisi, Martin Page-Relo, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Federico Mori, Marco Zanon, Pierre Bruno, Ange Capuozzo, Monty Ioane, Simone Gesi, Lorenzo Pani 

Italy: Head coach and captain

Head coach - Gonzalo Quesada

Former Argentina international Quesada took over at the helm in January this year from experienced Kiwi coach Kieran Crowley.

Quesada has spent the last 15 years coaching mostly in France’s Top 14, and led Stade Francois to the title in 2015, while he also spent three seasons in charge of Los Jaguars in Super Rugby, taking them to the final in 2019.

This is a first coaching foray into the international arena for a player who earned 38 caps for Los Pumas and appeared at the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups.

Captain - Michele Lamaro

The 25-year-old Benetton flanker was named captain in the autumn of 2021, just a year after making his international debut, and has 33 caps to his name.

Lamaro stands out for his work-rate and his leadership, and has been the driving force behind a shift from Italy’s defensive performances of the past, when damage limitation was key, to a more ambitious attacking game.

Italy: Key players

Paolo Garbisi

Fly-half Garbisi has generally been the Azzurri’s first-choice number ten, although he did line up at inside centre in Italy’s last two pool matches at the 2023 Rugby World Cup with Tomasso Allan starting at fly-half. 

He has also featured more often in the midfield for club side Montpellier in the Top 14 this season and it may be that a dual playmaker role fits with Italy’s ambition to create more in attack.

Tomasso Allan

Born in Italy to a Scottish father and Italian mother, schooled in England, and with a rugby career grounded in South Africa and France before a stint in the Premiership with Harlequins, Allan certainly boasts a colourful background and has racked up 79 appearances for the Azzurri at the age of 30.

He started the first two matches of last year’s Six Nations when Garbisi was injured and also featured at full-back in that tournament and at the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.

It will be interesting to see where new coach Quesada, himself a former fly-half, fits in Allan and Garbisi and given their experience and talents, it would be no surprise if both start in some combination.

Monty Ioane

The nephew of Wallaby international Digby Ioane was born in Australia and started his club rugby in France and New Zealand before moving to Benetton in 2017 and qualified to represent Italy through residency in 2020.

A powerful winger, Ioane has scored 11 tries in 25 appearances for the Azzurri including two at the Rugby World Cup last September.

After a stint in Super Rugby he now plays for Lyon in the Top 14, although he picked up an injury in the French side’s Champions Cup defeat at Saracens and is likely to miss the opening rounds.

Ange Capuozzo

After setting up the try that sealed Italy’s hugely emotional victory against Wales in Cardiff in 2022 with a dazzling run, Capuozzo was hailed as the future of Italian rugby.

A slightly-built winger and full-back, Capuozzo was born and raised in France, starting his club career at Grenoble before being snapped up by Toulouse.

He started all four of Italy’s Rugby World Cup matches in 2023, scoring two tries.

Ross Vintcent

Born in South Africa, flanker Vintcent became eligible for Italy after coming through the FIR Academy, and represented the national Under 20 team 12 times.

Uncapped at senior level, Vintcent now lines up for Exeter and scored a hat-trick of tries in a Premiership Cup win over London Scottish in October so a Six Nations debut could be on the cards.

Italy: 2024 Six Nations expectations

The Six Nations is such a close-fought tournament that it’s hard to make any bold predictions but if there’s one forecast that is not fraught with risk it’s that Italy will finish bottom for the ninth season in a row.

Progress has been hard to gauge for the Azzurri but skipper Lamaro has spoken of the need to put in more positive performances to keep the fans on their side and a tally of nine tries in last year’s competition was their best total since 2019.

Their lowly status means they are usually handed big handicap starts for their Six Nations matches - last year the line was in double figures for four of their five matches and they stayed within the handicap each time.

This year they start at home against England and are rated 17-point underdogs.

Italy: Six Nations history

Just two wins in the last two years makes for a fairly bleak tournament history, and Italy have finished bottom in 18 of the 24 years they have taken part. 

The Azzurri’s best finish was fourth with two victories, a feat they have accomplished twice, in 2007 and 2013.

YearPositionNotable Achievements
20155thBeat Scotland away
20226thBeat Wales in final round

Italy: Form & odds

It’s just 4/11 that Italy prop up the table , while it’s 1/3 that they lose all of their games again, and given they face three away matches including trips to tournament favourites Ireland and France, it’s hard to dispute those odds.

Their final game is away to Wales, as it was in 2022 when they claimed a famous last-gasp victory, their only success in the last eight campaigns.

Just one win would represent another success for the Azzurri, who also take on Scotland at home in round four - it’s 12/5 that they finish with one victory under their belts.

While 2022 brought some success with their famous win over Wales plus a historic first Test victory over Australia in the autumn, the 2023 Rugby World Cup featured heavy defeats to New Zealand and France.

All odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.

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